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Great PDF sewing patterns for beginners and advanced sewists – including FREE projects!
Where to begin or what to try next?
Sewing is a wonderful skill to have. It’s a skill that you can use for all kinds of reasons! You can sew items that are purely practical. You can also sew unique pieces of art (pieces made by me are available for purchase in the SHOP) if you’re tired of choosing from the same high street fashion. Sewing is such great way to build your own beautiful and timeless wardrobe in size that fits perfectly! You may even be looking for a therapeutic activity to introduce some creative ‘me time’ into your busy schedule. OR, you may wish to learn a technique that will grow with practice and eventually turn into a business! Whatever the reason, you will need the right sewing patterns to actually make your projects happen.
What are sewing patterns?
Sewing patterns are paper guides that help you put the final fabric piece together. They are individual pieces of the product you are making, laid out together in various sizes. The sizing is differenciated by marked lines and dots, sometimes different colours too. Thanks to that you can always easily find the pieces that belong together.
If I were to take a simple T-shirt, rip the seams and place the pieces next to each other, I would most likely end up with four parts. One to create the front, one for the back and two to form the sleeves. If I drew these on a paper in different sizes, this would be my paper sewing pattern. Sewing patterns which you can either buy on paper or download in digital PDF form, are precisely like that! Except the process is reversed – you use the paper pattern to trace onto the fabric, cut all pieces out and form a garment.
Today I’ll share with you some of my favourite sewing pattern websites and styles suitable for both beginners and advanced creatives. Of course, there are some large and well known names selling paper patterns, such as McCall’s, Simplicity, Butterick or Vogue. However, we will primarily focus on small, trendy sewing blogs and indie downloadable sewing pattern examples. At the end, I will also share some useful sewing class resources you can try to grow your skills!
Let’s look at some of the most common questions first!
Before moving onto my favourite sewing patterns and sewing classes, let’s answer some of the most common questions surrounding the sewing pattern topic!
What are PDF/digital sewing patterns?
PDF or digital sewing patterns are patterns which are available for home printing. Instead of buying a paper sewing pattern, you can purchase and download a digital version in PDF format. You will need a printer to print your pattern out. However, this option saves you both waiting time and shipping costs!
How do I know a sewing pattern is good?
This is a great question. Sewing patterns may appear confusing when you first look at them. Chaotic bundle of lines, dots and colors that don’t seem to make much sense. However, when you look into thepattern more, there are a few things you should find that will help you with easier orientation. A good pattern should also contain a few details that will help you determine whether the pattern is worth trying.
In general, if you purchase a single pattern, you will only see the pieces laid out next to each other, drawn with multiple lines indicating different sizes. These lines should be properly visible and easy to follow. The pattern should also contain a test square which will tell you if the pattern has been printed correctly. If the pattern comes with an instruction booklet, you should be able to find table of sizes telling you the approximate amount of fabric needed. Instructions should also advise you on the best material to use. If the pattern is intended for stretchy knit fabric, you may find that the pattern design counts on the fabric properties. If you then use 100% linen instead, the final result may not be what you hoped for.
Instructions should also tell you what other supplies you may need, from buttons to zippers to interfacing. The last part of the instruction booklet will probably be an actual guide on how to sew the garment. All these tools indicate a thorough sewing pattern and will make the process much easier.
What you will not be able to see immediately is whether the pattern has actually been designed correctly. This means that if you follow a certain size properly and the pieces then don’t fit together, this could easily result in unnecessary waste of your fabric. There are a couple of things you can do before you actually transfer the pattern onto your fabric. Firstly, see if the pattern has reviews. Good reviews and praise are always great indicators that somebody has already made a purchase before you and was happy with the product. Secondly, trace the pattern onto a tracing paper first, before you mark it onto your fabric. This way you can test how the pieces fit together without wasting any material.
What are indie sewing patterns?
Indie sewing patterns are those made by individual creative artists. There are many crafty blogs and social media accounts where designers or sewing hobbyists share their sewing progress and projects. Sometimes, when their skills develop enough, they will also make and sell patterns for others to use. These are often original in some way, designed for pieces that are unique and original! It’s a lovely way to support a small creative business too!
How do you print PDF patterns?
PDF patterns as digital files are usually printable/downloadable right after the purchase. You can access them from your computer or phone. Whatever the device, once connected to the printer your sewing pattern can be printed out.
When I print my sewing patterns I always make sure to do two things. Firstly, I make sure to have enough paper ready because most patterns are around 40 pages large (this is the pattern only, excl. any instructions). Secondly, it’s vital to print out the correct size of the pattern. DO NOT select ‘fit to page’ option when printing your PDF sewing pattern. If you do, the sizing will be incorrect. Instead, look for a page which displays the ‘test square’, it is usually one inch, ten centimetres, etc. Print out this one page in regular setting and check if the measurement is correct on paper. If the square states one inch, the size of one side should be one inch. If the sizing is bigger, go back to make sure you haven’t selected ‘fit to page’ option.
Once your pattern is printed out, you need to lay it down according to the numbers. Each page should carry a number and each PDF sewing pattern should also come with an instruction booklet. In the booklet you should have a page where you can see what the laid out pattern looks like. Follow provided layout and use a simple sticky tape to tape the pages together. The finished pattern will contain different sizes and can be reused as many times as needed.
Are sewing patterns reusable?
Once you cut a sewing pattern, it is difficult to use it again for different size. This may be easier for PDF sewing patterns because you can print it out again. However, this means having to print out another 40 pages and tape them together. You can save both paper, ink and space using a simple tip! To avoid cutting a complete printed pattern, use basic tracing paper instead to draw and cut the size you need.
Great sewing patterns you can try
We have covered some of the common questions asked about sewing patterns. Now we can look at great projects that you will definitely enjoy making! Bellow you will find ideas for beginners as well as projects great for advanced sewing. I have also included helpful and affordable sewing classes some of which I have taken myself. Sewing is one of those skills that you may need to see done to fully grasp the practice. There are many amazing options to choose from, both free and paid!
Goodies first – A list of FREE Sewing Patterns you can enjoy!
- Sorbeto Classic Top by Colette HERE
- Jumpsuit pattern free for download HERE
- Short Sleeve T-shirt Dress available HERE
- Easy Shirred Maxi Dress – great as maternity fashion too!, available HERE (free instructions for simple pattern you can easily create yourself!)
- Buttoned Midi Skirt free pattern and tutorial HERE
- Autumn/Winter Coat pattern for download HERE
Sewing patterns for beginners
If you are a complete beginner, you will want to begin with preparation of sewing basics. Once you have your working area set up, you can begin trying some simple sewing patterns and practice your technique. Great sewing projects for beginners would be simple Pyjama pants, pillow covers, reusable cotton bags, basic tops or straight robe-style jackets. Wiksten and Named Clothing offer printed and PDF sewing patterns that are great for sewing beginners!
If you’d like a bit of FREE practice before making any investments, why not try one of many beautiful yet simple sewing patterns on Pinterest? One of the creative bloggers you can find by simply searching for ‘sewing projects for beginners’ is Polka Dot Chair. Enjoy one of the 50 fun simple sewing projects, as well as many free videos and sewing projects!
One of the recent projects I am working on at the moment is an amazing dress by A Pair & A Spare. If you want to practice sewing as well as make your own free simple sewing pattern, try the amazing DIY Tiered Off The Shoulder Dress. You will also be able to create your own pattern for one of my latest fun DIY sewing projects inspired by slow stitching – textile book from linen scraps!
Sewing patterns for advanced sewists
Another great place to choose sewing patterns from is definitely Burda Style. You can find and download affordable sewing patterns for women, men, children and you will also find a great range of styles in the plus size section! The patterns can be filtered further by the skill level, issue, season or even fabric type. Burda Style also sells printed magazines (with sewing patterns) which may be available on annual discount subscription in your area! Lastly, with each issue you will find a practical seiwng project such as belt purse, fabric travel bag and more!
As an advanced clothes maker, you are likely to be able to read patterns despite the language they are written in. As time goes on and your practice and experience grows, you will find expected marks on patterns and be able to work the pattern even if it is in foreign language. I have definitely noticed this and dared to purchase a few patterns in French. If you feel similar and don’t mind the challenge, I will encourage you to visit the My Dress Made sewing blog by Olivia! She makes stunning dresses and blouses which are feminine, trendy and she will reference both the sewing pattern and the fabric maker! I particularly love her Cosmos Dress by Pretty Mercerie, Olivia Dress by Named Clothing, Sierra Blouse/Dress or the Vogue Dress.
Did you enjoy the tips in this article? Why not save them to your Sewing Tips or Craft Ideas Pinterest boards!
Useful sewing classes
There are many sewing tutorials that are completely free of charge. I have mentioned Pinterest before, it’s my favourite platform to visit! I also need to mention YouTube. On YouTube you can find amazing channels entirely dedicated to sewing projects and sewing tips, from beginners to professionals. Some of my favourites are definitely Aneka of Made to Sew, Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone, Evelyn Wood, Mel from Handmade by Ditsy Tulip or sewing and upcycling projects by Made by Aya.
Amazing, professional and very thorough is also Angela Kane! She shares her knowledge in sewing videos, sewing pattern articles, eBooks and you can also subscribe for very affordable membership.
Beautiful Merrick of Merrick’s Art, and Leane of Elle Apparel Blog offers sewing classes for sewing beginners and advanced students. Even though Merrick doesn’t sell actual sewing patterns on her website, she does share various stunning sewing projects on her website which you will definitely want to check out!
For those ready to make some investment, there are various online classes by Burda Style. Burda Style sells ‘how to’ kits, teaches sewing via Burda Style Academy and also offers teaching certification for sewists who want to teach sewing using BurdaStyle digital patterns!
Another great option are sewing tutorials by Sew Over It mentioned above, which you can find HERE. Wonderful Mimi G who runs a successful YouTube sewing channel can also teach you how to sew! You can learn sewing and pattern making in her Sew It Academy to create your own wardrobe or learn to make finished products to sell! Her courses are available for monthly subscription fee.
TIP: Clever idea for those interested!
I have not taken this class personally, however I have come across this course a while ago and it seemed like another clever skill to have! For those of you who are experienced sewists and maybe feel it’s time that you took another step towards building a sewing business, I am including information about Making PDF sewing patterns by Melly from Melly Sews. Do you know how to create original sewing patterns and would like to learn how to turn them into a digital product? Would you like to use this product as part of your online creative business? Then Melly may be just the person to show you how!
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed tips and ideas shared in this article! You are most welcome to share your experiences with the sewing patterns in the comment section bellow!